Author Topic: Wires/leads in electronic terminology  (Read 1906 times)

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Offline conductivity

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Wires/leads in electronic terminology
« on: June 16, 2022, 05:32:31 pm »
So I talked about speaker cables in this thread that was about what specs matter:
https://audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/best-speaker-cable-specs.32719/post-1216044

I wrote that wires are not electronics, they are just a physical material that doesn't add distortion to audio. Please confirm or deny that I am right that cables are not electronics and don't distort an electrical signal if you'd like. Wikipedia lists electrical cables here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_component#Cable_assemblies

Edit: I have now updated the post on the ASR Forum. Cables are electronic components, since they are components and they are used in electronic circuits.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2022, 10:29:07 pm by conductivity »
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Offline Romualds

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Re: Wires/leads in electronic terminology
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2022, 05:50:56 pm »
Shortly -- you are right and wired does not add distortion to audio.
However a lot of hi-fi enthusiasts believe that sound is different with different kind of wires and even more -- listening experience changes depending onif wires are heated up (with special kind of sound patterns). There aren't any technical proofs of that -- it's just a matter of believing.

UPD: Wires with very bad quality actually can make sound worse -- thin wires to speakers can reduce sound volume and badly shielded wires can catch external interference.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2022, 05:54:53 pm by Romualds »
 
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Online Benta

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Re: Wires/leads in electronic terminology
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2022, 06:32:20 pm »
That cables don't introduce non-linear distortion (harmonics, intermodulation) is true.
But they certainly have "electronic" characteristics that are important for signal integrity:

Resistance.
Capacitance.
Inductance.
Impedance.
Cross-talk.
Isolator loss.
Plus a couple more.

These all contribute to frequency dependent linear signal distortion, eg, bandwidth, rise time, impulse response, overshoot, delay etc.

A very instructive study is stripping CAT-6 UTP network cables. You'll see that the twisted pairs have different twist pitch to even out cross-talk between pairs.
 
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Offline fordem

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Re: Wires/leads in electronic terminology
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2022, 06:35:58 pm »
So - would you consider speaker leads to be a "transmission line"?  Try researching transmission lines at audio frequencies and you'll discover the answer is yes, and if the lines are long enough (which is rare for speaker leads) they do make a difference to frequency response.

Wires have resistance, pairs of wires have capacitance, combine them together and you have an RC filter, pass an "alternating current" through that RC filter, it's going to alter the signal.

Incidentally, there was a point in my life when I was a "disbeliever", and then I discovered "litz wire phono cartridge connectors" (I guess I'm showing my age here) - for those not familiar with what I'm talking about, four inch-and-a-half long scraps of insulated wire with gold plated clips that connect the phono cartridge on a turntable to the wiring in the arm - the difference IS audible, whether or not you consider it an improvement is up to you, but it is audible.  To be honest, at this point we're discussing "millivolt" level signals so it probably doesn't take much added resistance to make a difference

When an inch-and-a-half snippet of wire can make an audible difference, it's not hard to believe that twenty/thirty/forty/ninety feet of wire will also make an audible difference.
 

Offline conductivity

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Re: Wires/leads in electronic terminology
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2022, 07:48:02 pm »
So - would you consider speaker leads to be a "transmission line"?  Try researching transmission lines at audio frequencies and you'll discover the answer is yes, and if the lines are long enough (which is rare for speaker leads) they do make a difference to frequency response.

Wires have resistance, pairs of wires have capacitance, combine them together and you have an RC filter, pass an "alternating current" through that RC filter, it's going to alter the signal.

Incidentally, there was a point in my life when I was a "disbeliever", and then I discovered "litz wire phono cartridge connectors" (I guess I'm showing my age here) - for those not familiar with what I'm talking about, four inch-and-a-half long scraps of insulated wire with gold plated clips that connect the phono cartridge on a turntable to the wiring in the arm - the difference IS audible, whether or not you consider it an improvement is up to you, but it is audible.  To be honest, at this point we're discussing "millivolt" level signals so it probably doesn't take much added resistance to make a difference

When an inch-and-a-half snippet of wire can make an audible difference, it's not hard to believe that twenty/thirty/forty/ninety feet of wire will also make an audible difference.
Speaker cables are not transmission lines in practice, only in theory. Power cables use 50 and 60 Hz, which I can hear. Power cables are transmission lines for audio in practice. The longest power line in the world is apparently about 2,500 km long, and the electrical wavelength of 60 Hz is about 5,000 km in vacuum.
"An interconnect is considered a transmission line when its length is at least one-fourth of the signal wavelength."
https://www.allaboutcircuits.com/textbook/radio-frequency-analysis-design/real-life-rf-signals/what-is-a-transmission-line/

All of this is of course different from real speaker cables. With regard to litz wire for the tonearm, it will maybe increase parasitic capacitance and that is definitely bad if you used a moving magnet cartridge. I don't know how big the electromagnetic fields are for a few millivolts at audio frequencies (does someone know?). Measurements determine much more than what sounded good, because people fool themselves often about what sounds good. There is a good amount of time spent on talking about audiophoolery in the thread I linked to, on ASR in general and on EEVblog. I believe that litz wire for the tonearm is audiophoolery, but it could have decreased the electrical resistance simply by having more copper than the previous wires that were used.

And whenever someone writes an audio product sounded better than another, it is based on faith if people believe in that. Proof comes from when someone verifies the assertion independently. It is entirely possible to connect the phono stage to a low-distortion audio interface instead of a power amplifier, and then make very accurate measurements of a turntable.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2022, 08:07:54 pm by conductivity »
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Online Benta

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Re: Wires/leads in electronic terminology
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2022, 08:14:59 pm »
I agree that for audio frequencies, cable infuence is negligible.

Concerning the Litz wire for turntables: I can believe that they provide a better result. But for a completely different reason: they don't have an outer  isolation sleeve and are thus much more pliable/flexible. This reduces mechanical load on the tone arm and pickup/needle.
 
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Offline TimFox

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Re: Wires/leads in electronic terminology
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2022, 08:23:00 pm »
Any pair of wires forms a transmission line, but uncontrolled construction results in a crappy transmission line with ill-defined characteristic impedance, etc.
That being said, for the typical lengths of cabling required in audio installations, the lumped parameters (especially resistance and capacitance per unit length) are far more important than transmission line effects such as reflections.
When I installed my speakers on the other side of the living room from the amplifiers, I used 2xAWG12  SO flexible cable.  When I bought 50 feet of it at my neighborhood hardware store, the young clerk asked me what I was using it for, and when I answered, he replied "Where are your speakers?  Schaumburg?"
 

Offline free_electron

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Re: Wires/leads in electronic terminology
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2022, 08:38:57 pm »
best speaker cable is a two stacked 40 wire flatcables with all its wires shorted.
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Offline TimFox

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Re: Wires/leads in electronic terminology
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2022, 08:48:54 pm »
best speaker cable is a two stacked 40 wire flatcables with all its wires shorted.
An alternative is to connect the odds and evens in the flat cable together.  This can help reduce inductance as well as resistance, and fit nicely under the carpet.
 

Online Benta

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Re: Wires/leads in electronic terminology
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2022, 09:19:30 pm »
When I installed my speakers on the other side of the living room from the amplifiers, I used 2xAWG12  SO flexible cable.  When I bought 50 feet of it at my neighborhood hardware store, the young clerk asked me what I was using it for, and when I answered, he replied "Where are your speakers?  Schaumburg?"

 :-DD  Witty young man. He'll get far!
 

Offline TimFox

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Re: Wires/leads in electronic terminology
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2022, 09:24:12 pm »
I agree that for audio frequencies, cable infuence is negligible.

Concerning the Litz wire for turntables: I can believe that they provide a better result. But for a completely different reason: they don't have an outer  isolation sleeve and are thus much more pliable/flexible. This reduces mechanical load on the tone arm and pickup/needle.

The mechanical reason why flexibility of these wires is important is that they pass through the pivot point for the tonearm to rotate across the disc, and if they be too stiff, the torque puts a transverse force against the needle-groove interface.
Since Litz wires do not need a sleeve (or "serve"), they can be more flexible than an insulated stranded wire.  It is a nuisance to terminate them, though.
 
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Offline conductivity

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Re: Wires/leads in electronic terminology
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2022, 09:38:18 pm »
I agree that for audio frequencies, cable infuence is negligible.

Concerning the Litz wire for turntables: I can believe that they provide a better result. But for a completely different reason: they don't have an outer  isolation sleeve and are thus much more pliable/flexible. This reduces mechanical load on the tone arm and pickup/needle.
Great idea. Never thought about that the old PVC cables in tonearms can become so stiff that the tonearm might not work right anymore. PVC becomes stiff when plasticizers are lost over time, so silicone insulation is much better for the tonearm if the flexibility must be maintained.

Any pair of wires forms a transmission line, but uncontrolled construction results in a crappy transmission line with ill-defined characteristic impedance, etc.
That being said, for the typical lengths of cabling required in audio installations, the lumped parameters (especially resistance and capacitance per unit length) are far more important than transmission line effects such as reflections.
Okay, you made me find out that a transmission line is called short when it is up to 80 km, medium from 80 to 240 km, and long when 240 km or longer. But it is normal too that "transmission line" implies "long transmission line".

best speaker cable is a two stacked 40 wire flatcables with all its wires shorted.
Only if you absolutely need to hide them under a carpet or something else that is flat, because there is no other benefit from the work that is involved.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2022, 09:46:37 pm by conductivity »
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Offline TimFox

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Re: Wires/leads in electronic terminology
« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2022, 09:44:41 pm »

Any pair of wires forms a transmission line, but uncontrolled construction results in a crappy transmission line with ill-defined characteristic impedance, etc.
That being said, for the typical lengths of cabling required in audio installations, the lumped parameters (especially resistance and capacitance per unit length) are far more important than transmission line effects such as reflections.
Okay, you made me find out that a transmission line is called short when it is up to 80 km, medium from 80 to 240 km, and long when 240 km or longer. But it is normal to that "transmission line" implies "long transmission line".
[/quote]

By the way, the distance from my house in Chicago to Schaumburg is 35 km, so the speaker cables are short.
 

Offline conductivity

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Re: Wires/leads in electronic terminology
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2022, 09:53:00 pm »
Skin effect, inductance, capacitance and resistance are then all transmission line effects for normal audio cables, because none of those parameters can affect the lengths that are used (except MM cartridges, but they are not really hi-fi anyway). Litz wire is for radio frequencies that have skin effect, so not for audio. There are sadly some speaker cables that are made of litz wire, and they add parasitic capacitance that could be a problem in some scenarios (that is not a normal audio cable by the way).

Do you think that cables should be called electronics/electronic components, or is that only something designed to affect the signal like when a resistor is added specifically to add resistance on purpose?
« Last Edit: June 16, 2022, 10:20:19 pm by conductivity »
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Offline TimFox

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Re: Wires/leads in electronic terminology
« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2022, 10:21:18 pm »
Capacitance, skin effect, resistance, inductance are then all transmission line effects for normal audio cables, because none of those parameters can affect the lengths that are used (except MM cartridges, but they are not really hi-fi anyway). Litz wire is for radio frequencies that have skin effect, so not for audio. There are sadly some speaker cables that are made of litz wire, and they add parasitic capacitance that could be a problem in some scenarios (that is not a normal audio cable by the way).

Do you think that cables should be called electronics, or is that only something designed to affect the signal like when a resistor is added specifically to add resistance on purpose?

If I twist two Litz wires (with some serve) together to make a two-conductor cable, how is the parasitic capacitance greater than with two insulated non-Litz stranded wires of the same spacing between wires?
At 10 kHz, the skin depth in copper is 0.65 mm = 0.026 in, so it might be important for a copper wire 0.05 in = AWG 16 = 1.3 mm OD, or larger.  My speaker cables discussed above are AWG 12, but the total DC resistance (< 0.1 ohms) is negligible compared with the DC resistance of the voice coil (roughly 6 ohms).

There are good MM cartridges, and the flexibility of Litz wire is important for the tone arm, not the cartridge.  Note that MM cartridges are higher impedance and higher output than MC cartridges, so the circuit parameters and SNR considerations are different.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2022, 10:24:44 pm by TimFox »
 

Online Benta

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Re: Wires/leads in electronic terminology
« Reply #15 on: June 16, 2022, 10:44:03 pm »
Great idea. Never thought about that the old PVC cables in tonearms can become so stiff that the tonearm might not work right anymore. PVC becomes stiff when plasticizers are lost over time, so silicone insulation is much better for the tonearm if the flexibility must be maintained.

I actually didn't mean "old" PVC here, but simply that the insulation sleeve has an influence on tone arm movement. Whether it's PVC or silicone doesn't really matter. the point is that loosely braided Litz has almost no mechanical resistance to twisting.
With really high-end tone arms riding on air- or magnetic bearings, this is the last part of the equation to "free needle tracking".
 

Offline conductivity

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Re: Wires/leads in electronic terminology
« Reply #16 on: June 16, 2022, 10:50:58 pm »
If I twist two Litz wires (with some serve) together to make a two-conductor cable, how is the parasitic capacitance greater than with two insulated non-Litz stranded wires of the same spacing between wires?
At 10 kHz, the skin depth in copper is 0.65 mm = 0.026 in, so it might be important for a copper wire 0.05 in = AWG 16 = 1.3 mm OD, or larger.  My speaker cables discussed above are AWG 12, but the total DC resistance (< 0.1 ohms) is negligible compared with the DC resistance of the voice coil (roughly 6 ohms).

There are good MM cartridges, and the flexibility of Litz wire is important for the tone arm, not the cartridge.  Note that MM cartridges are higher impedance and higher output than MC cartridges, so the circuit parameters and SNR considerations are different.
Insulation of litz wire adds weight to the tonearm. It is the type and amount of insulation that is important for tonearms. So silicone cables with just one layer of insulation each is good, and what I meant was that there is no reason to use litz wire for each channel of a cartridge.

This is the kind of sad speaker cable I was thinking about, if you'll please note the capacitance. They even went so far as to use microfarad or millifarad in order to make the number look smaller (in any case, it's way more capacitance than a normal speaker cable). No reason for this cable's existence :(

ArtistCloner SOLITZ speaker cable:
"49 strands of LITZ wire (solid core >99.99% high purity annealed copper)
"One Solid core *6N-OCC 99.9999% pure copper in a Teflon tubing (Teflon is considered the holy grail in isolation properties)
"Very low skin effect losses
"Capacitance is less than 0.002mF at 1kHz
"Inductance too low to measure"
https://www.artistcloner.com/speaker-cables.html
« Last Edit: June 16, 2022, 10:52:39 pm by conductivity »
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Offline TimFox

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Re: Wires/leads in electronic terminology
« Reply #17 on: June 16, 2022, 11:08:35 pm »
If I twist two Litz wires (with some serve) together to make a two-conductor cable, how is the parasitic capacitance greater than with two insulated non-Litz stranded wires of the same spacing between wires?
At 10 kHz, the skin depth in copper is 0.65 mm = 0.026 in, so it might be important for a copper wire 0.05 in = AWG 16 = 1.3 mm OD, or larger.  My speaker cables discussed above are AWG 12, but the total DC resistance (< 0.1 ohms) is negligible compared with the DC resistance of the voice coil (roughly 6 ohms).

There are good MM cartridges, and the flexibility of Litz wire is important for the tone arm, not the cartridge.  Note that MM cartridges are higher impedance and higher output than MC cartridges, so the circuit parameters and SNR considerations are different.
Insulation of litz wire adds weight to the tonearm. It is the type and amount of insulation that is important for tonearms. So silicone cables with just one layer of insulation each is good, and what I meant was that there is no reason to use litz wire for each channel of a cartridge.

How much weight does the thin enamel insulation on the individual strands of small size Litz wire (suitable for tone arms) add, compared with the normal polymer (PVC or PTFE) overall insulation on normal stranded wire?


This is the kind of sad speaker cable I was thinking about, if you'll please note the capacitance. They even went so far as to use microfarad or millifarad in order to make the number look smaller (in any case, it's way more capacitance than a normal speaker cable). No reason for this cable's existence :(

ArtistCloner SOLITZ speaker cable:
"49 strands of LITZ wire (solid core >99.99% high purity annealed copper)
"One Solid core *6N-OCC 99.9999% pure copper in a Teflon tubing (Teflon is considered the holy grail in isolation properties)
"Very low skin effect losses
"Capacitance is less than 0.002mF at 1kHz
"Inductance too low to measure"
https://www.artistcloner.com/speaker-cables.html
 

Online Benta

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Re: Wires/leads in electronic terminology
« Reply #18 on: June 16, 2022, 11:10:45 pm »
I don't think you've quite understood the function of Litz cable.
That some speaker cable seller hasn't understood it either is obvious.
Litz cable is just stranded cable where the strands are isolated from each other. But they carry the same signals and voltage. There's no interaction between the strands at all. Capacitance cannot come into play here. That's an RF thing.

I introduced Litz cable here for mechanical reasons only.

 

Offline conductivity

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Re: Wires/leads in electronic terminology
« Reply #19 on: June 16, 2022, 11:48:05 pm »
If I twist two Litz wires (with some serve) together to make a two-conductor cable, how is the parasitic capacitance greater than with two insulated non-Litz stranded wires of the same spacing between wires?
Conductors separated by insulation is a capacitor. A capacitor has capacitance. Litz wire has more insulation in between conductors in speaker cables and therefore has more capacitance.

How much weight does the thin enamel insulation on the individual strands of small size Litz wire (suitable for tone arms) add, compared with the normal polymer (PVC or PTFE) overall insulation on normal stranded wire?
I guess this doesn't matter either way in practice.

So I will rephrase my previous question, does nobody know whether cables are electronic components?
« Last Edit: June 18, 2022, 09:57:26 pm by conductivity »
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Offline BrokenYugo

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Re: Wires/leads in electronic terminology
« Reply #20 on: June 17, 2022, 12:53:58 am »
That's a rather open ended question, it depends how detailed you want/need to analyze things. The practical everyday answer is "no", they're just wires that may as well be running at DC.

At audio frequency and typical loudspeaker impedance, any parasitic/stray properties of a speaker cable can generally be ignored AFAIK. There simply isn't enough capacitance or inductance there to color the sound at any perceivable level. Enough copper to handle the current and good low resistance connections are all that practically matter.

 
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Offline Kyle_from_somewhere

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Re: Wires/leads in electronic terminology
« Reply #21 on: June 17, 2022, 01:53:02 am »
So I will rephrase my previous question, does nobody know whether cables are electronic components?

Yes but they're reactive ones, and the frequency needed to get them to react is far, far beyond what audio has to offer, so it doesn't matter.

A better question is: Why are you invested in winning an audiophile argument to the degree you registered to another forum for backup?
 

Offline conductivity

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Re: Wires/leads in electronic terminology
« Reply #22 on: June 17, 2022, 04:07:02 am »
A better question is: Why are you invested in winning an audiophile argument to the degree you registered to another forum for backup?

No, because the question is wrong. I wanted to challenge my understanding by finding out whether my post on the ASR Forum was correct. I registered this account some time ago, long before I even considered creating this thread.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2022, 10:19:23 pm by conductivity »
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Offline boB

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Re: Wires/leads in electronic terminology
« Reply #23 on: June 17, 2022, 04:47:21 am »
Most "Litz" wire you get these days are various forms of twisted wire and not the real woven Litz

"Type 8"  I believe is the real Litz wire.  Or was it type 7 or 9 ?



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Offline free_electron

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Re: Wires/leads in electronic terminology
« Reply #24 on: June 17, 2022, 06:14:21 am »
best speaker cable is a two stacked 40 wire flatcables with all its wires shorted.
An alternative is to connect the odds and evens in the flat cable together.  This can help reduce inductance as well as resistance, and fit nicely under the carpet.
that's another option, yes. Bob pease did an experiment on that.
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